Short Stories, Irish literature, Classics, Modern Fiction and Contemporary Literary Fiction, The Japanese Novel and post Colonial Asian Fiction, Yiddish Literature, The Legacy of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and quality historical novels are some of my Literary Interests





Saturday, December 22, 2012

"The First Man in Space" by Mark Ryan

"The First Man in Space" by Mark Ryan  (2012, 5 pages)

A Reading Life Project




A Collection of Poetry and Prose from the 2011-2012
National University of Ireland at Galway MA in Writing Class
Edited by Maya Cannon

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Mark Ryan


"And Mulloch the Older began to snore, as if he were in bed in their room at the dingy hotel, filled with Irish tradesmen and laborers  Russian truckers and whores, while the cockroaches climbed all over the squat toilet in utter darkness'"

Not long ago I read and posted on all of the short stories in 30 Under 30:  A Selection of Short Stories by Thirty Young Irish Writers edited by Elizabeth Reapy.  One of the very big benefits to me, aside from the pleasure of reading some great stories, is that it created a base of young Irish writers whose careers I could begin to follow.    My thinking was if this is done for a relatively long time you could develop a sense of the way modern Irish literary culture works and I could see how writers develop themselves or how they abandon their craft.   

Abandoned Darlings, edited by Maya Cannon (2012) is an anthology of short stories and poetry by the MA in writing class at National University of Ireland at Galway.  I have never been to Galway but I know for a city of under 100,000 people it has produced more great writers than many a city with over five million people.  You can find  countries with a population of over 100,000,000 million whose literary output would be put to shame by Galway writers.  I will review and post one at a time on all of the short stories in the collection, fourteen in my quick count.

 I do not especially like posts on anthologies of short stories that just rave on about them in general.  When I visit a forest I do not just like to see the trees, I like to see the moss that grows on them, the vines that climb them and listen to the birds that make them their home.  I like to peel the bar from the trees to see the insects that bore into the trees, I like to study their roots. Sometimes I like to climb to the top of the trees and survey the environment   once in a while I build a tree house and stay awhile.    I  prefer to post on short stories one at a time rather than generalize about a collection.


There are lots of poems in the collection, I have already read several.  I liked them all.  I have posted on collections of Eastern European poetry but generally speaking I do see much point in posting on short poems one at a time.   The only poets I have read extensively are Yeats and Whitman.   I will thus be posting only on the short stories in the collection.  

"The First Man in Space" by Mark Ryan  is a about two Irishmen working on upgrading the Delta Airlines Transit Lounge in the  Moscow airport.    The Irishmen have formed a bond in their efforts to cope with the violent horribly cold city of Moscow.   One of the ways they cope is with drinking and hanging out in hooker bars.   As the story opens they are riding in taxi when men with automatic rifles stop the cab at a check point.   The driver panicked and scream out "Mafia" and the Irishmen take off running, they hear shots.  When they get back to the work site everybody has an idea as to what went down.   Some people think it was the Russian army who took the Irishmen for deserters.   

There is a young man of eighteen and  older fellow, who is trying to help him cope with Moscow.   Heavy supplies of Guinness are part of the coping strategy.  They have even found an Irish bar in Moscow, one with lots of pretty young girls, most all hookers run by the mob.   The young man was not used to strange girls sliding their hands up his thigh and flattering his good Irish looks.   

Ryan does a very good job in just a few pages of showing us how the Irish workers live, how they cope with the very foreign very cold very lonely environment.  They are supposed to stay in a compound set up for non-Russian workers but they have learned how to sneak out, they are so bored and unhappy.     

"The First Man in Space" by Mark Ryan really brings us into the world of Irish workers in Moscow.   It is very much a work of in the tradition of hard boiled Irish noir.

I would gladly read more of his Ryan's  and would like to return to Ireland with the central characters of this story.

Author Data

Mark is from west Clare in Ireland.  In 2006 one of his short stories was published in The Sunday Tribune and short listed for a Hennessay literary award.  He has published highly regarded poems, acted in a film and is working on a novel.  

He has a blog here, it is just in the opening stages of development.

Mel u









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